UPDATE: And just like that it’s gone. Astros catcher Carlos Corporan just hit a one-out homer to right. No doubt about. Just yanked it out of the park. We now return you to your regularly scheduled ordinary game. Well, apart from the part where Darvish does have 15 strikeouts. Which is pretty darn good.
4:19 PM: Yu Darvish has no-hit the Astros through seven innings this afternoon and has 13 strikeouts under his belt. The Astros’ lineup is certainly not fearsome, but Darvish has looked incredible so far today. The Rangers lead 2-0.
It would be a perfect game but for a horrendous call on a pitch to Jonathan Villar that should have been strike three. Instead it brought the count full and Villar walked on the next pitch. As soon as the walk was issued catcher A.J. Pierzynski said something to home plate umpire Ron Kulpa which caused Kulpa to eject him immediately. From the looks of it Kulpa seemed like the guy instigating the aggression, but of course Pierzynski is known for being something less than a gentleman at times. If someone is gonna say the magic words to an umpire, A.J. is the one. Still, you’d think an ump would develop some thicker skin before ejecting a guy’s catcher in the middle of a no-hot bid. I’m sure we’ll hear about it all later.
Either way, Darvish has tossed 96 pitches through seven innings. Given how helpless the Astros look at the moment, we could have a no-no on our hands.
The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.
The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.
The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”
Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.
The Blue Jays aren’t ready to say goodbye to Marco Estrada just yet, according to a report by FanRag’s Robert Murray. Murray hears that the club is interested in re-signing the right-hander, whose two-year, $26 million contract is set to expire with the end of the 2017 season. According to unnamed sources within the organization, the team has yet to discuss the specifics of an extension, but both sides have stated interest in working out a deal. While the veteran righty appeared to be on his way out after getting claimed on revocable waivers earlier this month, the Blue Jays were either unable or unwilling to arrange a trade in the 48-hour window following the claim.
Estrada, 33, has been a mainstay of the Blue Jays’ rotation since 2015. He hasn’t looked quite himself this season, however, going 5-8 in 25 starts with the club and toting a 5.09 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 9.2 SO/9 through 139 2/3 innings. His slump can be partially attributed to a string of rough starts in June and July; more recently, he snapped a streak of three consecutive quality starts with a 10-hit, six-run affair against the Rays. He’ll look to rebound on Sunday when he takes the hill against the Cubs for the team’s series finale.
Command issues aside, there’s no question that Estrada has been productive during his three-year run with the club, earning his first career All-Star nomination in 2016 and posting a cumulative 6.7 fWAR from 2015 through 2017. He still has a bit of work to do to return to the 3.48-ERA, 165-strikeout totals of yesteryear, but barring another slump, seems likely to don a Blue Jays uniform again in 2018.